When Russell Crowe signed on to star in Eucalyptus little did he know it would morph into The Full Monty.
The project, billed as an Australian romantic fable featuring an all-star, Oscar-pedigreed ensemble that included Nicole Kidman and Geoffrey Rush, collapsed just days before shooting was to commence on Feb. 14.
Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that Jocelyn Moorhouse-helmed production had been pushed off indefinitely because the script was reportedly not up to snuff. According to costar Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings), it was Crowe who nixed the screenplay because it wasn't to his liking
And that led to Crowe firing off an email to Sydney's Sunday Telegraph explaining his side of things.
"I don't have a problem with Hugo venting," Crowe wrote. "I agree with most of what he said. I fell in love with a magical and mysterious script by Michelle Joyner and Jocelyn Moorhouse 14 months ago."
The erstwhile Gladiator star then explained that he agreed to play only a minor role in the film but was surprised to find the part had been expanded via "strange growths that appeared in the script." He was especially put off by the inclusion of a new scene that was to feature a shot of his General Maximus.
"At one of the many narrative junctures I was taken aback at the addition of a scene requiring me to expose my penis to the young Queen Elizabeth," he said.
Producers reportedly offered him the use a prosthetic and a variety of sizes to choose from to cover his member, but he declined.
Crowe also brushed aside rumors that (a) he feared being upstaged by Kidman and (b) harbored ambitions of directing Eucalyptus himself.
"Oh for goodness sake, what next? Perhaps I wanted to play Nicole's role as well? Yes, that must be it; Crowe needed nicer skirts," he mused.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight Pictures rejected reports that Crowe was to blame for the production's demise.
"We reiterate that postponement was a collective decision made by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Jocelyn Moorehouse, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and [producer] Uberto Pasolini."
While Eucalyptus looks to be withering, it's not quite dead.
MSNBC reported that while Crowe was unhappy with the script, he's still hoping to get the movie off the ground, even approaching another Aussie, Bruce Beresford, to direct.
Meanwhile, in related Russell Crowe news, the ever feisty actor is taking some potshots at fellow celebs in an interview for the March issue of GQ.
"I don't use my 'celebrity' to make a living. I don't do ads for suits in Spain like George Clooney, or cigarettes in Japan like Harrison Ford," commented Crowe. "It's a complete contradiction of the f---ing social contract you have with your audience."
He also blasted Robert De Niro for appearing in an American Express ad that's been showing in movie theaters and has drawn fire from critics for exploiting the tragedy of 9-11 by including a shot of Ground Zero.
"I mean, Robert De Niro's advertising American Express." Crowe continues, "Gee whiz, it's not the first time he's disappointed me. It's been happening for a while now."
For his part, Clooney laughed off the criticism to Us magazine.
"I'm glad he set us straight because Harrison, Bob and I were putting a band together called Grunting for 30 Feet, and that would also fall under the heading of 'bad use of celebrity,' " the Out of Sight star quipped. "Thanks for the heads up."
Clooney, of course, was referring to Crowe's rock band, 30-Odd-Foot of Grunts, which is better known for its movie star singer-guitarist than its music.
No word what Crowe thinks about Kidman, who recently inked a multimillion-dollar contract to be the new spokeswoman for Chanel No. 5.
Now that he's done throwing verbal jabs, Crowe will next be tossing cinematic ones as boxing legend Jim Braddock in director Ron Howard's Depression-era drama Cinderella Man, due out in June.